Rakesh Rawal, CEO of Anand Rathi Wealth Services Ltd Makings of a Great CEO: Professionalism, Humility and being a Good Human

Rakesh Rawal

CEO: Rakesh Rawal

What excited you about the businesses you worked for during your earlier career, and what excites you about the business you now lead?
Rakesh Rawal: In my earlier career I worked for Hindustan Unilever. What excited me in those days was how successfully a business can be run in India. That it can be done in the most ethical manner, and with complete professionalism. Every decision taken by the company was thought-through and backed by data and mathematics. I am glad I was part of that wonderful journey.

The second thing that I did in my journey was to run my own business. The excitement of doing that is always high. What excites me about my current business is that it started off as an experiment in wealth-management, which was genuinely customer-centric – in an Indian and global environment. This concept was dying, so we were standing alone to explore this experiment. Whether we would succeed or not was up in the air. Now, after 12 years, I believe that this thought has taken shape and gathered momentum. I believe that, in the future, and under the stewardship of (deputy CEO) Feroze Azeez, this will create a name not only in the Indian echelons of business, but globally. That excites me.

What is special about the management style at your organisation, the team you lead, and the workforce?
Rakesh Rawal: There is nothing special about what we do. I think the only principal that we follow is that we do not create a distinction between the relationships that we build at home, with friends and on the personal side, and the relationships that we build at office. It is strange that (businesses) spend 60% of their waking life in the office, but follow methods of relationship-building which are not the best. I question that, and say “Why should 60% of my waking life not also be as joyful as the 40%?”. If you treat your colleagues as friends, in a genuine fashion, you end up building a culture which is a differentiator, and a much happier culture. A happier person is more likely to give great output, and that leads – as a corollary – to phenomenal returns for the business.

How would you characterise short to mid-term prospects for the industry in which you operate?
Rakesh Rawal: I think that the prospects of the wealth management industry – short- to mid-term, as well as long-term – are endless. The economy is growing at a sustainable rate of 7-8%. This then automatically leads to a large number of billionaires created – and they need to be serviced. This industry is constrained by supply rather than demand. So, I think that the prospects for this industry are phenomenal.

What are the personal and business strengths that qualify you as a corporate leader?
Rakesh Rawal: There are just two parts – one, the ability to think and strategize and two, the courage to implement differentiated ideas where you do not have the security of numbers. Third, being a good human being and encourage people to be good human beings and show to them that good human beings can be No. 1, hugely successful and so much enjoyable to lead a life rather than a rat in the rat race. Fourth, humility in a person classified by the world as successful is mandatory. My Guru used to say, ‘Be like the Bamboo tree, the higher you grow, the deeper you bow.’ This trait is admired, acceptable and sustainable across the world. Look at the industry and world leaders such as Sundar Pichai, Indira Nooyi and our Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These practices are not applicable only to the wealth industry but all the industries as well.

What are your short-term hopes for the future of your business and the industry as a whole?
Rakesh Rawal: I believe that for the next 20 years, our business should grow at a 25% compounded rate, in all terms – assets under management, revenue and number of hires. I think that the industry has immense potential, and I am sure my competition will have healthy growth as well.

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